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.Sounds fantastic.”“Well, we know one person who will dance with you,” says Wendy faintly.“He did just break up with his girlfriend, you know,” Mom says.“Tucker?” Wendy asks, confused.“Christian,” Mom answers.My heart misses a beat, and when Wendy and Angela don’t respond, I open the dressing room door and stick my head out.“How’d you hear about Christian breaking up with Kay?”She and Angela exchange a look.I only left them alone together for like five minutes this morning and Angela had obviously already presented her “Christian and Clara are soul mates” hypothesis.I wonder what Mom thinks of that.“If I were Christian you wouldn’t catch me anywhere near the dance,” says Wendy.“It’d be like a snake pit for him.”That’s true.This last week at school Christian seemed off—nothing too noticeable, but I watch him a lot, so I noticed.He didn’t crack any of his usual jokes in Brit History.He didn’t take notes during class.And then he was absent two days in a row, which never happens.Late, yes, but Christian’s never absent.I guess he must be pretty upset about Kay.I slip the dress over my head.It fits.Like it was made for me.So unfair.“Come on, let’s see it,” orders Angela.I go out and stand in front of the big mirror.“I wish my hair wasn’t orange,” I say, brushing an unruly strand out of my face.“You should buy it,” says Angela.“But I’m not going to prom,” I repeat.“You should go to prom just so you can wear that dress,” says Wendy.“Totally,” agrees Angela.“You are so beautiful,” Mom says, and then to my total shock she digs around in her purse for a tissue and blots at her eyes.Then she says, “I’m buying it.If you don’t go to prom this year, you can wear it next year.It really is perfect, Clara.It makes your eyes this stunning cornflower blue.”There’s no reasoning with them.So fifteen minutes later we’re walking out of the department store with the dress hanging over my arm.That’s when we split up, divide and conquer, Mom calls it.Angela and I check out the bling stores, and Mom and Wendy head toward shoes, since there’s nothing on heaven and earth my mother loves so much as new shoes.We agree to meet back at the mall entrance in an hour.I’m in a weird mood.I find it ironic that Angela and Wendy are both going to prom and the only thing we’ve bought so far on this trip is a dress for me.And I’m not going.I’m also irritated because I can’t wear real earrings because piercing my ears doesn’t work—they heal too fast.I don’t like any of the non-pierced earrings I see.I want something dangly and dramatic for this dance I’m not going to.I’m feeling queasy and light-headed all of a sudden, so Angela and I stop at Pretzel Time and each get a cinnamon pretzel, hoping some food in my stomach will help.The mall’s crowded and there’s nowhere to sit, so we lean against the wall and eat our pretzels, watching the people stream in and out of Barnes & Noble.“Are you mad at me?” Angela asks.“What? No.”“You haven’t said two words to me since breakfast.”“Well, you weren’t supposed to talk angel stuff, remember? You promised.”“Sorry,” she says.“Just tone it down a notch or four with my mom, okay? What with the staring and the questions and everything.”“Am I staring?” She blushes.“You look like a Kewpie doll.”“Sorry,” she says again.“She’s the only Dimidius I’ve ever met.I want to know what she’s like.”“I told you.She’s like one part hip thirty-something, one part tranquil angelic being, and one part crotchety old lady.”“I don’t see the old lady part.”“Trust me, it’s there.And you’re like one part crazy teenager, one part angelic being, and one part private detective.”She smiles.“I’ll try to behave.”That’s when I see him.A man, watching me from the doorway of the GNC.He’s tall, with dark hair pulled back into a ponytail.He’s wearing faded jeans and a brown suede coat that hangs off his body loosely [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]